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Luc Besson Found Guilty of Illegally Firing Assistant, Must Pay Damages

EuropaCorp founder Luc Besson (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”) was found guilty on Jan. 8 of having unlawfully fired his former assistant while she was on medical leave.

As part of the ruling by the high court of Bobigny, Besson and his production company EuropaCorp were sentenced to pay €10,000 ($11,114) and $22,229, respectively, in damages to the claimant, a single mother in her 50s. The assistant, who has not been named in the media, worked for Besson for four years starting in 2015, until she was fired in January 2018, allegedly for “serious misconduct.”

The claimant, who alleged that she was treated as a “slave” by Besson during the time she served as his assistant, had been on leave since the previous fall after having been examined by four doctors – including one ordered by EuropaCorp – who said she was not fit to work. She remained on medical leave for 13 months after being fired by EuropaCorp.

In addition to the damages which she will receive from Besson and EuropaCorp, the claimant will also receive $1,118 for the moral prejudice she suffered and $1,118 to cover her legal fees.

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Besson’s lawyer told Le Monde that his client will appeal the decision and he was surprised by the court’s decision considering that the claimant had previously sued EuropaCorp for discriminatory termination with the labor court (Prud’hommes) and lost the case on Oct. 9. The court nevertheless found Besson guilty of moral harassment.

The prosecutor in charge of the case had recommended a 10-month prison sentence. The Paris prosecutor in charge of the case also recommended higher fines for Besson and EuropaCorp during a hearing held Wednesday, according to the general secretary of the high court of Bobigny, near Paris.

Besson has also been accused of rape by actor Sand Van Roy who filed a new criminal complaint with civil action after the Paris prosecutor dismissed her criminal complaint. A French judge has now reopened the case and is conducting further investigation.

EuropaCorp is in the process of being taken over by New York-based Vine Alternative Investments, its junior lender.

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